Sen. Rand Paul invited top Russian government officials to visit the US later this year to continue a dialogue on important national security issues, he announced Monday. "We agreed and we invited members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Russian Federation to come to the U.S. to meet with us in the USA, in Washington".
The chairman of the Russian worldwide relations committee, Konstantin Kosachev, thanked Paul and said he hoped the meetings could happen before the end of the year.
"We've also agreed, if it can be arranged, to meet as well in a neutral country with all of our committees", Paul said.
"I think this is incredibly important, " Paul said after the high-profile sit-down.
The Kentucky Republican was in Moscow meeting with Russian officials on Monday.
The issue of Russian election meddling remains a major issue in the U.S. Congress ahead of midterm elections, and such visits can potentially influence negotiations over U.S. sanctions between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The trip also demonstrates the continued determination of certain members of the Republican Party to defend the Trump administration's attempt at warmer relations with Russian Federation. "They're not going to admit it in the same way we're not going to admit we were involved in the Ukrainian elections or the Russian elections", he said.
Background: A group of US lawmakers led by Sen.
Paul, however, has stood by Trump, despite his remarks in Helsinki. "Certainly it will not happen during the ongoing election campaign either", he said. In June, some Texas Republicans decried President Donald Trump after his meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin, where Trump expressed doubt about the US intelligence community's consensus that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
"Of course, Mr. Paul is yet to discuss these ideas with his colleagues after returning to Washington", Kosachyov said.
USA intelligence agencies say Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 United States presidential election to try to tilt the race in Trump's favour, an assertion Moscow rejects, and the two countries are also at odds over Syria and Ukraine.
Trump has invited Putin to the White House, a move largely panned by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Paul defended Trump's meeting with Putin amid backlash from Democrats, establishment Republicans, and the mainstream media.